Thursday, October 8, 2015

Energy monitoring

As we have been planning on the solar system expansion we have been increasing our awareness of energy usage.  The local utility still needs to capture operating costs while we are connected to them.  They are going to do this by charging a base connection charge around $25-30 and a peak consumption charge each month.  I think the peak connection charge will be about $7 per kwh.  What this means is that if we use 4 kwh we will have to pay $28 plus the base rate.  Here is a copy of the net metering rate

This new rate schedule brings on two different things for us.  First off, it allows us to calculate the utility of something like the Tesla Wall.  If a single Tesla wall costs $3500 and we end up having $600 a year in utility costs, perhaps a single Tesla Wall and going off grid makes financial sense.  The second thing  this does is have us try to limit the controllable peak demand charge.

In order to learn our energy usage patterns we bought a PowerCost wifi bridge and monitor off Amazon.  Our utility meters have a LED that can be read to know the energy used.  I wanted to learn what each appliance or fixture or consumed in power before net metering started.  This product installs on the exterior meter and gets read via the wifi system in the house.  I found this product difficult to get set up.  Despite following directions and accessing online support videos I could not get it working.  I had ignored the online reviews of the product.  Even if people got this product working it frequently died after less than a years worth of use.  Click on picture below to see this product.  I now wish we had bought a Ted Energy Pro monitoring system.

Site under Construction

We are finally in the process of expanding our solar system.  Our local utility has adopted net metering and tax incentives for our state expire at the end of 2015.  We are adding another 20 panels, perhaps doubling our generating capacity.  We hope this will leave excess to help power up an electric car in the future.  Click image for larger.  12 panels on the third row and 8 on a new lean to addition on the garage.